June 27, 2012

2010 October 14 – Melbourne’s Lung Health Put To The Test

Australians are set to take lung health seriously on Global Test Your Lungs Day with free lung function tests available nationally and the announcement of a trial of a new lung health tool – the Lung Age Estimator

14 October 2010The Australian Lung Foundation is urging all Victorians to think about their lung health by participating in Global Test Your Lungs Day, a national health initiative offering free lung function tests in all capital cities today.

Prof Christine McDonald, Director, Austin Hospital Department of Respiratory and Sleep, explained that Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common lung disease that tends to creep up gradually and is often under-diagnosed.

“Under diagnosis of COPD is a major issue worldwide with between 40% and 80% of people being unaware they have the condition. A precise diagnosis of COPD can only be made by measuring lung function using a test known as a spirometry test” said Prof McDonald.

COPD is a long-term disease of the lungs which causes shortness of breath and includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.2 Approximately 2.1 million Australians have some form of COPD and by 2050, this figure is expected to more than double to 4.5 million Australians.1

“People who unknowingly have COPD may mistake their symptoms as signs of ageing, lack of fitness or asthma – a simple lung function test from a GP can diagnose COPD” added Prof McDonald.

It is estimated that more than 4,500 Australians will take part in Global Test Your Lungs Day by having a free lung function test. In addition, to support Global Test Your Lungs Day, the Lung Census, a two-week (4 -15 October 2010) lung function screening campaign operating in GP surgeries, will aim to screen 50,000 adults across the country. A lung function test, also known as a spirometry test, measures the amount and speed of air that can be inhaled and exhaled by the lungs and assists with diagnosis of asthma and COPD.3

Prof Christine Jenkins, Head of the Airways Group, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research encouraged Australians to take advantage of Global Test Your Lungs Day events, explaining that outcomes for people with lung conditions such as COPD can be improved if the disease is identified and managed from an early stage.

“Acting on your symptoms early can make a difference to your long-term lung health. Early diagnosis combined with multidisciplinary team care management and education disease management programs offer patients the best chance to reduce the overall impact of COPD and to stem or slow the progression of the disease to more severe stages,” said Prof Jenkins.

Lung diseases place a considerable burden on the hospital system, resulting in nearly 350,000 hospitalisations and causing 19,200 deaths each year.4-5 In particular, COPD is one of the leading causes of death and preventable hospitalisations in Australia6 and places a heavy burden on patients and the healthcare system.1 The single largest cause of developing COPD is cigarette smoking.2

To improve understanding of lung health and to encourage people to think about the long-term impact of smoking, The Australian Lung Foundation is supporting the development of a new online tool, the Lung Age Estimator, which illustrates individual lung function decline and determines a person’s ‘lung age’. The tool is now being tested through a clinical trial involving Australian GPs and will be available later in the year to GPs and patients across the country.

The Lung Age Estimator works by taking a person’s actual age, height and lung function test results to create a personalised graph which depicts normal lung function compared with lung function if the person continues to smoke or chooses to stop smoking. The Lung Age Estimator provides a ‘lung age’ estimate which is calculated based on Australian data.

“The Lung Age Estimator is a tool being developed for healthcare professionals and is based on the knowledge that the rate of decline of lung function of susceptible smokers is much faster than that of non-smokers. We believe this tool may prove to be a motivator in helping Australian smokers to consider kicking the habit as it clearly shows how lungs can age and decline over the long-term should people continue to smoke,” said Prof Alan Crockett, Director, Primary Care Respiratory Unit, University of Adelaide and developer of the tool.

Mr William Darbishire, CEO of The Australian Lung Foundation, reminded Australians that even if they are unable to attend a Global Test Your Lungs Day event, they should not ignore symptoms such as breathlessness and take action on their lung health.

Early diagnosis is crucial for improving quality of life for people with a chronic lung disease. If you are experiencing shortness of breath with your regular activities, ongoing coughing or chest pain, visit your doctor and ask about a lung function test or complete The Australian Lung Foundation’s lung health checklist online at http://www.lungfoundation.com.au/ ,” said Mr Darbishire.

Global Test Your Lungs Day is a key event taking place worldwide in October as part of 2010 Year of the Lung. The 2010 Year of the Lung is a global 12 month campaign designed to communicate the urgency for increased awareness and action to promote lung health in the community. For further information or help and support The Australian Lung Foundation can be contacted on 1800 654 301 or visit http://www.lungfoundation.com.au/.

“It’s time for Australians to take their lung health seriously. I urge all Australians to use Global Test Your Lungs Day to check your lung health and help catch lung disease before it catches up with you,” concluded Mr Darbishire.

– Ends –

GLOBAL TEST YOUR LUNG DAY EVENT LOCATION:

Melbourne: Global Test Your Lungs Day will be held in Melbourne from 8am – 4pm at Southbank Promenade , Melbourne CBD [adjacent to Southbank pedestrian bridge]

MEDIA PHOTO CALL: The Australian Lung Foundation will be holding a media photo call to photograph high profile personalities and celebrities taking a lung function test from 9.45am local time in Melbourne. If you would like to attend this event or to arrange an interview with a lung health expert, please contact:

Hayley Dowling

Shevaun Cooper

(02) 9928 1521 or 0404 852 884

(02) 9928 1503 or 0412 586 428

 

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EDITOR’S NOTES

Global Test Your Lungs Day and the Lung Census:

Global Test Your Lungs Day events are open to all members of the public over the age of 18. Adults aged 35 years and over who experience any of the following symptoms are particularly encouraged to take a test:

  • Shortness of breath compared with others their age
  • A repetitive cough with phlegm/ mucus most days
  • Currently smoke or an ex-smoker

The Lung Census – a joint initiative of The Australian Lung Foundation, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Improvement Foundation, and MediMark International – will be conducted from 4 -15 October 2010 to support and promote Test Your Lungs Day (14 October) and 2010Year of the Lung. The Lung Census aims to identify those within the screened population requiring medical follow-up with regard to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

About the Lung Health Checklist:

The Lung Health Checklist allows people to understand their lung health and share the results with their healthcare provider if required. After completing the Lung Health Checklist, users receive a customised response providing advice on action to be taken for their lung health.

2010 World Year of the Lung:

The 2010: The Year of the Lung is a worldwide 12 month campaign designed to communicate the urgency for increased awareness and action to promote lung health in the community. Its objectives include:

  • Drive legislative, political and grassroots public opinion towards measurable improvements in funding, research and development, basic lung health screening.

  • Increase smoking cessation and public education of lung health.

  • For more information visit: http://www.2010yearofthelung.org/

About The Australian Lung Foundation:

The Australian Lung Foundation is the premier organisation for lung health in Australia, providing medical and support group representation nationwide. It was established in 1990 to reduce the significant and debilitating cost of lung disease and is the leading facilitator of research and professional development in lung disease. The Australian Lung Foundation offers a national network of patient support groups for people with lung conditions. Patients are supported with information via http://www.lungfoundation.com.au/, a quarterly health education newsletter, telephone information and toll free support hotline (1800 654 301).

References

  1. 1.  Access Economics. Economic impact of COPD and cost effective solutions. 2008
  2. 2.  McKenzie DK, Frith PA, Burdon et al. The COPDX Plan: Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for the Management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 2008. Available at http://www.copdx.org.au/
  3. 3.  The Australian Lung Foundation. What is spirometry?. Last updated May 2008. Available at: http://www.lungfoundation.com.au/lung-information/lung-and-respiratory-conditions/copd/what-is-spirometry
  4. 4.  Australian Bureau of Statistics. Underlying causes of deaths in Australia. 2009
  5. 5.  Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Principal diagnosis data cubes: Separation statistics by principal diagnosis in ICD-10-AM, Australia 2006-2007
  6. 6.  Mathers C, Vos T, Stephenson C. 1999 The Burden of Disease and Injury in Australia. ISBN 1-74024-019-7. AIWH Cat. No. PHE-17